Throughout the entire spring semester, I’ve came to the conclusion that happiness is a very complex process. By this I mean, happiness isn’t just the state of being happy, it requires the state of active participation and it is accompanied by concepts like sleep, diet/nutrition, physical well-being, and acknowledgement of one’s personal cognitive biases and traits. I feel like acknowledging that happiness is complex is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from class because I see the world suffering, we have mental health issues rising, technology advancing, and social media promoting the meaningless content. If we were all to acknowledge the fact that we can all be happy but it takes active participation within a complex process from us all to get it done.
Some of the smaller topics that helped me form this insight would include: sleep, diet/nutrition, resilience, physical well-being, personal cognitive biases and traits. If you think about it, happiness requires a slice of each of the topics I just listed, a healthy sleep schedule, healthy eating schedule, eating healthy foods, exercising to promote physical health, well-being, and self-exploration of one’s traits is a healthy lifestyle for one to feel happy. This is why I find happiness so complex, some people don’t realize all the work it takes to become happy. For example, from personal experience I have seen friends slack off, sleep at unearthly times, barely eat, and never went to the gym/tried to exercise ever and complain why they are in such a negative mood, this shows the paradox within happiness. I’ve seen my friends even acknowledge the fact that they continue to do all these unhealthy habits, complain about them, and continue to do so without trying to change something in their routine to help their health and well-being.
Some of the concepts that stuck out to me the most in class and what I found most meaningful were emotional resilience and substance use. I pray this to all my friends, I find resilience to be one of the most important and most useful skills to have anywhere, adapting to situations, work ethic, and emotional stability. I feel like I pride myself on the resilience I have built throughout my life, which is why I find it so important to the human race because this concept must be built, it does not come naturally. I just find it to be such an intricate concept because it plays out in so many everyday situations like in the workplace or combating with mental health. The other concept that stuck out to me was substance use, our guest speaker on opioid addiction really stuck with me because it’s something I have seen personally from some family members of mine. Substance use and recovery can draw so much emotional out of us and it takes so much to be able to talk about it with others, which I give much respect in that guest speaker. For our group project, we chose substance use because our group found it all relatable to our personal lives which is why this concept stuck with me. We all know someone who has substance use problems, some may acknowledge it, some won’t and this shouldn’t be a norm in our society, this rise of substance use has been immensely rising since 2002 and there needs to be more awareness about it to combat against it. Also, I found substance use so meaningful because in our group project, we listed a variety of recovery services to go to in the Richmond area and I had the pleasure to attend one of the anonymous events. This event was post by the Well here at VCU, and one of the key takeaway messages was the fact that we are all our own unique individuals, but we shouldn’t be selfish to one another, we can help one another and create a happier earth for all others to enjoy. Another message was the fact that recovery and substance use can be very emotional, which can drag people down and this creates negative externalities.
Throughout the semester, I’ve tried to spread my knowledge from class to friends when we’re just hanging out because I find it important to spread awareness and positive messages to our social network of friends and family. If I have a friend that needs to talk to me about their emotional/physical well-being, I use the topics from class to help push them in a better direction which is something I appreciate from this class. As a psychology major, the entire set of topics is something that builds happiness and this information can help me in the future when it comes to counseling others, and spreading a positive message to those in need. An example of this can be found in my workplace, whenever we are very busy, some of my coworkers tend to slow down or get really nervous but I like to give them some positive messages like, “hey calm down, we will get through this”, “just breathe and take your time you got this”, and “keep up the good work, you’re doing well.” I find that spreading these positive comments can really influence someone to push themselves in a workplace setting and this was all learned in class! I plan to continue to use these positive messages to help create a healthy setting at work and create healthier friendships, also it can help me if I ever follow a therapist path with my major.
Some changes I’ve already made in my life is attempting to eat healthier, manage my timing of meals better, exercising, and physical well-being. I found my diet and planning of meals was very poor before the semester, but in our lectures about diet/nutrition, I’ve learned that food plays such an important role in our state of well-being, this was also included in two of my psychology classes that I am currently taking as well. I planned to create a healthier diet for myself because I see how much more energy I have when I eat healthier and time the meals well, it helps me when I need to go study at the library for a long time or before I head into work for a shift. I also chose to ride my bike to work to help promote my physical well-being and to exercise more, I did this to include more exercising in my life because I compare this stage to stages when I was in high school. During high school, I was playing 2 sports and during off season, we would all be lifting but that routine faded away when I got to VCU. This was important because in high school I was very active, which made me feel better about myself and put me in more positive moods. I found biking to work very positive for my well-being because it makes me feel worthy about myself when I go in to work or when I get home, or maybe it could just be the runners high. Something I continue to work on is my sleep schedule, I am notorious for having a poor sleep schedule, and I try to fix it but I just stress about too many things. Growing up, I found sleep to be more relevant and important each year as I progressed. It’s such an intricate concept because of our bodies sleep rhythms and patterns, heading to bed at late times usually puts me in a negative mood and this is something I can barely avoid because I have difficulty putting myself to sleep. I compare this to high school as well, in high school I would go to bed around 10:00-11:00, and wake up at 6:00 AM, and I was very active, had great energy, and got so much work done. But comparing this to my career in college, it is very different, here I find it impossible to wake up at 6:00 AM to do school work, I find myself yawning and getting tired during my first lectures of the day, and I find myself staying up late socializing when I would be better off in bed.
The information that I have learned from class will be promoted on one of my Instagram accounts, I tend to use one of my accounts for creative posts, motivational quotes, and art. I started this account back in 2016 because I wanted to post about mental health, awareness of oneself, and resilience, to this day I continue to post positive messages to my friends to give them a smile. After class is over, I will continue to post my motivating images because from lecture, we got to examine the chart of social networks, happy people are always with happy and sad people are accompanied with other sad folks, my message is to spread a positive message to my friends so we can all build a healthier social network for everyone included. For my own personal network, I will continue to write down motivating quotes and spread them to friends to help them out.
For the image, I chose this one because I find the message very positive in a healthy way. We are all our own unique individuals, we control ourselves and we make our own decisions so I find it very true that we tend to live most of our life inside of our head because we are always constantly thinking about our lives and what is to come. We need to create a healthy environment for our brain because it’s going to control our mental/physical well-being, and we can create this from the various topics from class: diet, sleep, nutrition, personal traits, resilience, and well-being. If we were to acknowledge the fact that we all live most of our lives inside our heads, maybe we can all come together to create a healthier mental environment for all of us. I also find the message in the image to be very essential because it speaks that we shouldn’t be holding our head down when we feel regressed, if we are living our unique lives inside of our head, then we need to be treating it healthier! I find that the image posted is a great and constructive summary of the entire class of Science of Happiness and the concept of happiness in general, we need to treat ourselves better because our brain will repay us! All in all, the concept of happiness is an intricate, yet complex process, it is not impossible to achieve but it requires an active participation and numerous subjects which involve mental health.